Interview with Williamsburg, Virginia Chef Thomas Schroeder

Schroeder is the executive chef at colonial restaurant Chowning’s Tavern

The restaurant's focus is on early American fare.

Williamsburg, Virginia is home to a recreation of a village from the 18th century, complete with most of the accouterments of that time.  One of those is a colonial restaurant called Chowning’s Tavern. The atmosphere is complete with colonial dishes, waitresses in period costumes, and musicians playing period tunes. We sat down with the executive chef, Thomas Schroeder, and asked him a few questions.

The Daily Meal: How did you get into cooking? What were your early influences?
Chef Thomas Schroeder: I was always fascinated by cooking. Even at a young age, I would watch cooking shows on television and try to recreate the dishes for my family. This was a way to express myself as an artist. I have always felt that I am creating edible art for people to enjoy. One my biggest influences is my mother, she would always cook tasty meals for the family and was always trying out a new recipe that she found in a magazine or in a cook book. She taught me the basics of cooking and how to read recipes.

How do you work with suppliers? What do you look for?
We have a buyer who looks over the products that will be needed for a new recipe or dish. I give the buyer specifics of the products that I am going to need and we will review the samples from different suppliers. Once we agree on a product and a supplier, we go ahead with receiving shipments. From there we inspect the products that we receive and check for quality and freshness. If a product is not up to standard then the shipment is rejected and a new one ordered.

Do you have any specialty dishes?
One of my favorite dishes is a Bourbon glazed thick cut pork chop with apples. I like to serve this dish with herb roasted potatoes and grilled asparagus. I take a thick cut pork chop and season with rosemary and sage along with other spices. I give it a good searing on both sides while basting it with brown butter, then I remove the chop from the pan and add sliced apples. When the apples have a nice color, I deglaze the pan with bourbon and reduce to make a sauce. I add some brown sugar and a touch of cinnamon and return the chop to coat with the sauce.


What are your plans for the future?
I will continue to expand my culinary knowledge and work on new recipes. I’m always looking for new ways to take traditional recipes and add my own twist to them. I’m fond of fusion cuisine. I like taking cooking styles and flavors from other cultures and integrating them to come up with new takes on dishes.